Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:43 pm

Break from CBA talks needs to become a gut check

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are taking the holiday weekend off from negotiating a new CBA. Some folks might see this as a problem, because it means a break from negotiations and continued progress.

However, there's reason to think that this weekend could be a gamechanger, provided that both sides remember exactly what "negotiating" means.

As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported over the past few days, the owners are presenting scenarios that don't fit in line with what they'd previously offered, and the NFLPA lawyers are refusing to budge on the issue of retired-player benefits. That, folks, is not negotiating, unless the word suddenly became a synonym for "being stubborn."

This weekend shouldn't be a time to sit around and gripe about who said what in which room, and whether this or that proposal was insulting. This is a weekend to realize that America is sitting around enjoying the summer, not really complaining about the lack of football, and patiently waiting for the two sides to strike a deal.

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This weekend needs to be the two sides talking apart from one another and understanding that now is a time for a negotiation gut check.

The NFL needs to understand that it HAS to give in on certain areas, and the NFLPA needs to understand that it HAS to find some leeway on others.

That might sound silly and obvious, but it's -- plainly -- exactly what comprises negotiating.

We've constantly heard leaders from both sides preach about dialogue and the need for bargaining during this process. And we've constantly been told that there's ample reason for optimism despite the fact that there's not any football on the horizon.

But there's no concrete proof of any actual negotiating; there's no guarantee that either one of the sides can willingly find some room for concessions that will forward the progress of the best sport in the country.

And that's why a break is critical -- everyone involved in the negotiations of a new CBA for the NFL needs to take this time off to realize just how close we are to the beginning of the football season, to assess the goals of these negotiations, to figure out what the respective breaking points of each side on each issue are, and to find a way to hammer out a deal when negotiations resume on Tuesday.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:14 am

Report: new CBA target date could be July 10

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After a marathon session Thursday that included the owners playing their version of rope-a-dope and switcheroo (neither of which were well received by the players -- shocking, we know), the two sides reconvened this morning to continue to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman summed things up in this morning's The Daily Shoutout: "So here we are .. .again. Hanging on every word and piece of news and hopefully that news will get better in the coming days."

The speculation in recent weeks is that owners and players were hoping to have a new CBA, at least in principle, by mid-July. Specifics are hard to come by, primarily because both sides seem more interested in ending the lockout than staging a PR battle through the media. And for the most part, it's been a successful plan.

Citing three people who have been briefed on the negotiations, the New York Times' Judy Battista writes that "The N.F.L. had hoped to have at least an agreement in principle in place around the Fourth of July … [and] although a resolution remained possible within the next 10 days, it was more likely that negotiations would drag on past that time, with a better chance for a settlement coming the week of July 10."

One of Battista's sources added that "…the sides were close enough to complete a deal within 72 hours with intense effort. But dynamics among the parties, the person said, could stall a deal. The league is concerned that some lawyers and agents on the players’ side will prefer to wait, perhaps for a court decision that could sway negotiating leverage, before reaching an agreement."

So what does this mean?

On one hand, it's encouraging that both sides are taking negotiations seriously, even if it took almost four months of finger-pointing and name-calling to get to this point. On the other hand, you have to wonder what the owners were doing Thursday with their "Hey, look over there while we change the terms of the agreement!" strategy.

For the most part, talks seems to be moving in the right direction. The specifics of a new deal, or the precise date when it's struck, are unimportant. What is important is that there is a 2011 NFL season, in its entirety. That's all fans want.

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:05 pm

Gerald McCoy is buddies with Goodell

Smith and GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

After NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke with the incoming rookie class at the NFLPA symposium in Bradenton, Fla., earlier this week, the two decided to catch a little Buccaneers player-led workout action.

And somebody was REALLY happy to see Goodell.

That would be rookie DT Gerald McCoy, who hugged Goodell at the NFL draft and then bear-hugged him again during the practice.

"I don't know how my teammates feel about me right now," McCoy joked to the St. Petersburg Times. "I was his friend before the lockout. I'm not going to not be his friend because of the lockout. … But he was with Smith, so that's a good sign. I'm optimistic about that. When I saw him, I gave him a hug and everybody was like, 'Really?' I don't care. They'll get over it."

Maybe they won’t get over it as quick as McCoy would like, especially after the report by CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman about the stalled negotiations from today -- after all, McCoy was fraternizing with the so-called enemy.

Other than McCoy, it seemed like players kept their distance from Goodell while Smith spent some time with Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman and a few others.

But Buccaneers C Jeff Faine had one hope for Goodell -- that he saw something special while at practice.

"Hopefully what this shows to the owners is there's more to football than money," Faine said. "We're out here on our own dime, out here getting better and hopefully putting on a good product out there for our fans."

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:23 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 7:57 pm

Freeman: owners back to playing mind-games

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

That crash you just heard behind you? That was the sound of the optimism surrounding the labor negotiations plummeting to the ground.* And if it startled you, that’s OK. It sounds like it was kind of a scary day.

While most everybody lately has been so positive about the lockout ending soon (talks between the players and owners were going well, the lawyers were being kept out of the room and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had become buddy-buddy), CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman has some bad news for you.

Today was not a good day on the labor front.

Freeman writes that the owners are back to playing mind-games. Writes Freeman: “I believe it is the owners who are destroying this round of talks, even as the two sides are extremely close. I believe the sources that tell me owners are playing mind games with the players: getting their optimism up and then down hoping the players cave out of frustration.”

I don’t see the players getting frustrated and caving. I see the players getting frustrated and then getting pissed. And the news makes you wonder if the owners still are content to take a risk and hope that the NFLPA cracks once the players start missing game checks. That would be one hell of a risk to take, because tactics like this seemingly only would make the players’ resolve grow stronger.


Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

*Or it might be an intruder of some kind. Maybe you should stop reading for a second and go check it out.**

**Everything is cool, right? OK. Good. Glad to hear it.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:54 pm

Report: Smith tells players optimism is 'way off'

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been more than ample reason to wax optimistically about the NFL's labor situation over the past few weeks, with Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith playing friendly for the NFLPA's Rookie Symposium the chief reason.

But Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Wednesday night that such optimism is misguided, and that Smith called a large group of players to throw cold water on any hopes they had for a CBA deal this week.

Glazer reports that "50 Pro Bowlers were given call-in information but the number who participated is unknown," although he does point out that player reps Ray Lewis of the Ravens and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars were on the line.

"How optimistic are you that a deal will get done soon?" Lewis asked, according to Glazer.

Smith then told Lewis, according to Glazer, that "there is reason for hope."

However, Smith reportedly told Jones-Drew and others that there are serious gaps to bridge, specifically the sharing of revenue with retired players and the number of years needed to become a free agent.

"At one point, we were asked if we could sell six years of free agency to our locker rooms and we all said there’s no way," one player on the call told Glazer. "We heard about that and the [issue of] retired players — and that is even before we start talking about splitting the revenue."
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Another player told Glazer that now he feels "a little more informed" than he'd felt from simply watching "the news for updates."

It's a bit disturbing to hear the disconnect from reports of what's being done publicly compared to what Glazer heard from these players.

But it's also important to remember that just because Smith told the players a deal isn't done doesn't mean a deal can't be done. In fact, the theory that something could be wrapped up by this weekend is nice, but probably too optimistic.

No one ever thought figuring out the revenue split, the rookie wage scale, the free agency issue and retired-player benefits would be easy. And it won't be.

But with enough time to get a deal done and still have a "normal season" -- more than two weeks, if you want to play the "soft deadline" game and target July 15 -- and with Goodell and Smith spending plenty of "quality time" together, it's perfectly acceptable to maintain the "cautiously optimistic" status quo for now.

Just remember the cautious part.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 3:26 pm

Herm Edwards speaks at NFLPA rookie symposium

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Herm Edwards was an NFL coach for eight seasons with the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs. He's probably best remembered for his motivational skills, even if he wasn't particularly well versed in the nuances of clock management. So it makes perfect sense that he would speak to the 155 rookies at the NFLPA's rookie symposium.

If you're looking to get pumped up for the final few hours of work, this should do the trick.

Some highlights:

"When this thing comes to fruition -- and it will -- they're going to kick the ball off, you're going to go to training camp. If you're not ready to go physically? That's on you. Don't blame the lockout. Don't blame the commissioner. Don't blame De Smith. When you go to training camp, nobody wants to know about 'Well, we missed 20 practices because we didn't get OTAs' -- we don't care. Nobody cares."

"It really doesn't matter when you got drafted. I was not drafted. I was a free agent. Played for 10 years, men. Never missed a game, never missed a practice. I was ready to go when they kicked the ball off. Make sure you're ready to go."

"Sometimes talent can be a curse. You got so much talent you don't live up to it. … One thing about talent. You didn't earn it, God gave it to you. … Let's get that straight. It ain't like you went somewhere and worked out and got some talent. … You got talent. But does the production meet the talent? … Because if you're not a productive player, then it becomes a curse."

Now go out and Terry Tate somebody.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:32 am

Podcast: Free agency could be a frenzied hot mess

Posted by Ryan Wilson

For no official football, there's plenty going on in late June and we cover a lot of it in the latest Eye on Football podcast.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are meeting in Minnesota in the hopes of ending the lockout. And then there's Terrell Owens, 37, who has no plans on retiring … even though he recently had ACL surgery. We're not sure who will have a need for him at this stage of the proceedings, although he's destined for Canton. (Right? Right.)

Related geriatric talking points: Tiki Barber, you may have heard, wants to return to the NFL. Tiki's sort of like Terrell in that he can be problematic in the locker room, but the difference is that even TO had supporters. We have yet to hear one person -- including twin brother Ronde -- come forward in Tiki's defense.

Finally, we discuss Pete Prisco's top 50 free agents list. For the most part, we agree, although Michael Huff at No. 11 might be a tad high.

Talking starts below.

Just hit the play button and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 7:50 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 8:08 pm

Goodell to speak at NFLPA rookie symposium

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The offseason is all about hope. Fans hope that their teams will finally make the playoffs. GMs and coaches hope that the guy they traded up for last April pans out. And this offseason in particular, owners and players are hoping that Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith can solve the labor impasse, end the lockout and give fans all they really want: football.

Various reports suggest that there could be a new collective bargaining agreement by mid-July, which will make for a frenzied, abbreviated free agency period, but means that training camps and the season start on time. Sports Illustrated's Peter King reports that we're one step closer to that reality.

"DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA executive director, asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to speak at the NFLPA rookie symposium, and Goodell agreed," King wrote Tuesday evening. "The commissioner's appearance is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sarasota, Fla. The symposium, titled The Business of Football: Rookie Edition, is being held at the IMG Academy in nearby Bradenton, Fla."

Smith and Goodell were both in Minnesota Tuesday, meeting one on one without players or owners present. It was the first of four days of labor meetings. According to King, Smith and Goodell left town on the same flight Tuesday night, headed for Florida.

"The plan is for Goodell to speak at the symposium around 8 a.m. Wednesday, then Smith and Goodell immediately will fly back to Minneapolis and reconvene meetings with Judge Arthur J. Boylan after lunchtime," King said.

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It's the latest indication that Smith and Goodell, adversaries at various stages of the labor proceedings, have found common ground and are genuinely working to end the lockout.

King adds that "None of this should mask the fact that the two sides still have significant progress to make after multiple meetings in different parts of the country. One player representative told SI.com recently that he'd been told by the union that a deal is not imminent. But the signs continue to be good with meaningful dialogue and concessions from both sides apparently happening."

While CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Tuesday that "This coming week, various league and player sources have told me, might be the most important of this fight. This week could determine when this labor fight finally ends." Freeman added that "There is one difference about this week of negotiating, I'm told, and it's an interesting one. Both Goodell and Smith feel like they've been handed more respective authority to make an agreement on behalf of their constituents; Goodell on behalf of the owners and Smith on behalf of the players."

At the very least, it's progress. And progress means hope.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com